LI open space crop

Jan 2022

Regional Plan Association's 100-Year History on Long Island

RPA explores our 100-year history on Long Island through archival reports and photographs as we celebrate our Centennial.

Key RPA Contributions on Long Island


1920s - 1950s: Parks, Development, and Debates with the Levitts

1928 General Plan of the Land Uses
RPA Plan1 v1 Page 378 LI

In Long Island, all you need is a bulldozer and a banker and you’ve got a house.”

C. McKim Norton
Former RPA President

Long Island's population boomed during the post-war era


1960s - 1970s: Fighting Sprawl

2rp Long Island reports
Anti Moses Ad 1960s Fire Island News

To protect open space in the region, RPA fought against Robert Moses’s plans to extend Ocean Parkway through Fire Island and to build a bridge across the Long Island Sound.

Fire Island News, early 1960s.

1972 gateway brochure Cover

The Creation of Gateway National Recreation Area

One of RPA’s greatest achievements in geographic Long Island was the creation of Gateway National Recreation Area, the first U.S. national park in an urban area. Gateway stretches across Jamaica Bay, the eastern shore of Staten Island, and Sandy Hook off the coast of New Jersey. The project also preserved Breezy Point, the last open oceanfront in New York City

National Parks Service

National Parks Service breezy Point Map

Breezy Point Park

RPA Planning Director Stanley Tankel was instrumental in the park’s creation, championing the Breezy Point project for many years. In his memos and letters, C. McKim Norton credits Stanley with convincing him and the others at RPA to undertake the advocacy campaign. Unfortunately, Stanley did not live to see the park created; he died in 1968, at the age of 45. C. McKim Norton shared in his 1980 interview that the Federal Government recognized Stanley’s contributions. He was a real spark plug of that, and one of the nicest things that’s happened in my life is that the Federal Government has seen fit to call a little piece of that beach Tankel Breach, which is a most unusual thing to do. It’s really great.” A 1979 report from the National Parks Service included Tankel Beach on a map.

National Parks Service


1980s - 2000s: Greater Connectivity within Long Island and with the Region

How LIRR Shapes economy

2000s - 2020s: Developing a More Resilient and Equitable Long Island

Fourth Regional Plan Flagship Places

RPA 4 RP Render Flagship 07 Nassau 3 After Annotated RPA 4 RP Render Flagship 09 Inner Sound 3 After Annotated
Be Neighbor flyer


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